Dr Oliver Large
December 4, 2022
If Australia is anything to go by we are in for a big flu (Influenza) season in the UK this winter. Australia had its worst flu season in 5 years, with flu-related hospital admissions 10 times higher than the year before.
Over the last few winters, social distancing restrictions and lockdowns have lead to countries around the world experiencing lower than usual flu rates. However, scientists speculate this may mean our overall population immunity to flu has weakened.
The UK flu rates are being measured and indeed are already high. In fact, they are at the highest level seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s worse is that we are nowhere near the peak of the flu season yet, and rates are predicted to keep rising for several months yet.
Additionally, this winter we also anticipate a rise in Covid-19. Co-infection with Covid and flu may lead to more severe disease. Furthermore, there are our well documented pressures on NHS staffing.
Doctors and government officials are worried. A UK government press release about the rise in cases was put out on 24th of November, in which both Professor Chris Witty (Chief Medical Officer) and Steve Barclay (Health Secretary) urge eligible people to come forward for their flu vaccinations.
What are the symptoms of influenza?
- High fever (over 38.5 degrees C)
- Dry, chesty cough
- Cold like symptoms: Runny or blocked nose, sneezing, Sore throat.
Influenza symptoms tends to begin suddenly, or more severe and lasts longer. It can be fatal to vulnerable patients.
Can I be tested?
It is now possible to be tested. Should you become unwell and would like to find out what virus is causing you to be unwell, we can offer respiratory swabs which tests for COVID-19, influenza A influenza B and RSV.
How is flu treated?
For many people we just treat the symptoms with simple measures such as rest, hydration and paracetamol.
This winter, It has been announced that antiviral therapy can be provided to some eligible patients on the NHS.
“You get flu after the jab” Fact or Myth?
This is not true. It is an inactivated vaccination. So you can’t get the flu, but you may get flu like symptoms as the body is building immunity again may the inactivated virus, and it may be that by chance you pick up another seasonal bug that is circulating.
Should I get vaccinated?
If you have been invited for a flu vaccine, it either means you are considered in a higher risk category, or that your work may bring you into contact with people in a higher risk category. People in a higher risk are more likely to die from flu, which is the reason we recommend you accept an invitation to get vaccinated.
If you are not eligible for the flu vaccine on the NHS, you might still want to be vaccinated – especially this winter. Influenza is an unpleasant illness. Whilst if you are in a low risk category the mortality rate from flu is low, it is not zero.
Furthermore, you risk infecting other people more vulnerable than yourself such as elderly relatives. Vaccination can reduce the risk of this.
How do I get vaccinated?
If you are eligible for a fee NHS flu vaccine, usually your surgery will contact you and invite you in.
If you are not eligible, you can visit us for a vaccination privately, or check with your local pharmacy.
We offer the nasal flu vaccine as well as the injections. You can book in directly on our website.